Softened abortion language in Trump-approved GOP platform irks some social conservatives

A new slimmed-down Republican Party platform that won quick and overwhelming approval is the latest sign of former President Trump’s expanding ideological grip over the GOP.

While the platform – which softens longstanding Republican Party language in support of a federal ban on abortion – was praised by a number of top social conservative leaders, not all evangelicals were happy with the new document.

The platform, drafted by the former president and his top aides, was passed on Monday by a committee dominated by Trump supporters, which met behind closed doors in Milwaukee ahead of next week’s Republican National Convention.

The vote in favor of the platform – which was loaded with populism and nationalism – was 84 to 18, according to a source who attended the meeting.


“Ours is a forward-looking Agenda with strong promises that we will accomplish very quickly when we win the White House and Republican Majorities in the House and Senate,” Trump wrote on social media as he praised the passage of the platform.

The platform, titled “America First: A Return to Common Sense,” is the GOP’s first in eight years, as the 2016 document was duplicated in 2020. The 2016 platform weighed in at roughly 66 pages. The new version came in at just 16 pages.

The platform’s section on abortion was significantly softened from the 2016 document.


Following Trump’s lead, the document spotlights that abortion is best handled by the states.

“We believe that the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States guarantees that no person can be denied life or liberty without due process and that the states are, therefore, free to pass laws protecting those rights,” the draft reads.

However, for the first time in 40 years, the document makes no mention of a federal abortion ban, which the presumptive GOP presidential nominee has emphasized that he opposes.

Instead, the new platform stresses, “We will oppose late term abortion while supporting mothers and policies that advance prenatal care, access to birth control, and IVF (fertility treatments).”

In a letter spotlighted by the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee, seven evangelical and anti-abortion leaders – including Faith and Freedom Coalition Chairman Ralph Reed and SBA Pro-Life America president Marjorie Dannenfelser – gave their support to the platform.

“President Donald J. Trump has a clear track record of keeping his promises. During his first term, we pro-life and pro-family leaders applauded his courageous leadership,” the letter highlighted. “We support President Trump’s vision and his commitment reflected in the Platform to the causes that millions of Americans hold so dear – protecting life and promoting the family.”

However, not everyone was happy.

“I am concerned the Republican Party is moving away from its strong, definitive goal of protecting children from the moment of conception,” Tony Perkins, president of the influential Family Research Council, wrote on social media.

Brent Leatherwood, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, which is the public policy wing of the Southern Baptist Convention, took to social media to argue that “now is the time to advocate for a robust vision for life — at all levels of government — not retreat from it.”

Additionally, ahead of the vote, a policy group aligned with former Vice President Mike Pence – who has long been a champion for evangelical voters – urged the convention delegates on the platform committee not to purge the anti-abortion language.

The platform also abandoned long-standing language opposing same-sex marriage.

On economic issues, the platform does not spotlight reducing the national debt and instead calls to “end inflation” and “Make America Affordable again.”

In a major break from past precedent on trade issues, the platform now supports tariffs.

The document also highlights Trump’s pledge against cutting Social Security or Medicare.

Marc Short, a director of legislative affairs in the Trump administration and a chief of staff for then-Vice President Pence who this cycle served as a top adviser on Pence’s unsuccessful presidential campaign, took aim at the planks.

“Embracing tariffs and avoiding addressing entitlement spending, have been mainstays of the Democrat party. Adopting massive tax increases ( tariffs) as part of the Republican platform will not lead to economic prosperity,” Short argued.

The platform also included much of the language and rhetoric Trump uses on the campaign trail, including calls for the U.S. border with Mexico to be sealed and urging an end to “the weaponization of government against the American people.”

“It doesn’t say we’re not going to support this or that. It just focuses on the broad issues that everybody knows we’re going to support,” said a delegate who supported the platform who asked for anonymity to speak more freely.

The delegate told Fox News that the new platform “is something that I can go out and sell. It’s very simple, straightforward, very readable and very understandable.”

The Biden campaign took aim at the document, charging that “Donald Trump’s policy “platform” reads more like the screed of an unhinged and unwell conspiracy theorist who hates America and is in it for himself.”

The platform is expected to be easily approved at the full party convention next week.

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